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Old 09-15-2014, 02:29 AM   #1
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Mercedes ML350 or VW Touareg?

We just purchased a FR Wildwood 261BHXL and are now shopping for a TV to be able to pull it from Montreal to Myrtle Beach each summer (1000 miles/ 1700km) and the occasional weekend trip through the Northern East coast USA and Eastern part of Canada, so I am guessing another 1000 miles per year in various shorter trips.

Given that we would use the SUV to tow 2,000 miles/year max while not tow for 15,000 to 18,000miles/year, we need something fuel efficient for daily use. The only SUVs I have found that would meet this requirement while being able to tow are the MB ML350, the VW Touareg and the Porsche Cayenne, but the last one is out of our budget. looking for a used 2011. Not sure if we should go with the gas model (they all use premium) or diesel? And which model would be best for tow and long term - we want to keep the SUV for at least 7 years.

Now before the 'Weight Police' jump in, here are the facts about the TT and both TVs:
TT:
Dry hitch weight: 434lb
Unloaded weight: 4,314lb
GVWR: 7,396lb (but there is no way we would carry 3,082lb of cargo...)
Length : 29'1"

ML350 4matic
Engine: 3.5L v6, 268hp, 258lb.ft @ 2,400RPM
Weight: 4719lb
Wheel base: 115in
Towing capacity: 7,200lb
Max hitch weight: about 600lb

ML350 BlueTec Diesel
Engine: 3.0L V6 TDI, 210hp, 400 lb.ft @ 1,600RPM
Weight: 4971lb
Wheel base: 115in
Towing capacity: 7,200lb
Max hitch weight: about 600lb

Touareg
Engine: 3.6L V6, 280hp, 265 lb.ft @ 5,000RPM
Weight: 4711lb
Wheel base: 114in
Towing capacity: 7,700lb
Max hitch weight: about 600lb

Touareg TDI Diesel
Engine: 3.0L V6 TDI, 225hp, 406 lb.ft @ 2,250RPM
Weight: 4974lb
Wheel base: 114in
Towing capacity: 7,700lb
Max hitch weight: about 600lb

Also, I will add a Hensley hitch system. TV hitch reinforcement would also be a possibility (via Can-Am of course)

Do you think the gas models would be adequate or do I absolutely need to go with the diesel? I am interested in getting your opinion on this. Thanks for your help, knowledge and experience. (And no, I am not getting a pickup truck Would rather leave it parked at a campground than financing petroleum companies...)


Bob.

Enjoy life. You ain't coming back for a sequel...

2015 ForestRiver Wildwood X-Lite 261BHXL TT
2009 ForestRiver Flagstaff MAC 227 Popup (sold)

201x Volkswagen Touareg (shopping)
2003 Toyota Sienna CE plus (soon to be replaced...)
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Old 09-15-2014, 07:04 AM   #2
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We have a Member on FRF who Tows with a VW TDI. He attends Lots of our Frog Rallys,so it works for him! Do a Search,DDC from Ont.Canada! Youroo!!
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Old 09-15-2014, 07:20 AM   #3
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First, welcome to the forum, BobBaron.

Have you picked up the trailer yet? I suspect your trailer numbers are from the brochure so they may be extremely optimistic. I did a quick Google search on your model and found the yellow sticker will likely be closer to 4600# which means the tongue weight ideally should be in the range of 600#.

I suspect you're going to hear from the "weight police" whether you want to or not. Don't be offended. All advice and opinions given here are intended to be for your own safety and peace of mind based on real world experience.

With respect to your TV choices you'll need to consider not just towing capacity and payload numbers, but you are also looking to tow a 29'+ trailer with a very short 115" wheelbase which can create sway problems even if the other 2 factors are within reason. I know you said you'll be getting a Hensley hitch which is a high end product but even the Hensley (which will add a LOT of weight to your TV's hitch BTW) cannot overcome the physics of the short wheelbase.

If it were me, I would choose none of the above and look for a larger/longer TV. You asked for opinions. That's mine.
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Old 09-15-2014, 08:16 AM   #4
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Toureg TDI would work well. A longer tow vehicle will make the towing experience a bit more enjoyable but the Toureg will get the job done.

Your trailer has an unbelievable amount of cargo capacity. That is awesome. Plan on putting about 1,000lbs into it. That will put you about 5,500 lbs or so. Well within the Toureg specs.
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Old 09-15-2014, 08:27 AM   #5
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If you're dead-set against jumping up to a half-ton pickup truck (as has already been suggested,) then my second vote would be for the Toureg TDI as well. I'm a big TDI fan (on my 4th Jetta TDI) and the Toureg makes tons of torque for its size. It'll pull it, but sway and stopping may be an issue with the lighter weight and short wheelbase of the downsize SUV (VW or MB.)
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Old 09-15-2014, 08:31 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by itat View Post
I suspect you're going to hear from the "weight police" whether you want to or not. Don't be offended. All advice and opinions given here are intended to be for your own safety and peace of mind based on real world experience.
Not only the weight police, but the hitch, payload, and length police.

The BH in the model number probably indicates a bunkhouse, which indicates kids. The extra passengers plus camping gear, plus the tongue weight is a payload concern. When trying out any of those vehicles, load up the family, including Fido, expected camping gear, and head to some scales just to how close you are to the GVWRs.

Speaking of tongue weight, the 600 lb. receiver hitch weight capacity may be exceeded with that trailer.

A 115" wheelbased vehicle is a bit short to be pulling a 29' trailer.
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Old 09-15-2014, 08:52 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by itat View Post
First, welcome to the forum, BobBaron.

Have you picked up the trailer yet? I suspect your trailer numbers are from the brochure so they may be extremely optimistic. I did a quick Google search on your model and found the yellow sticker will likely be closer to 4600# which means the tongue weight ideally should be in the range of 600#.

I suspect you're going to hear from the "weight police" whether you want to or not. Don't be offended. All advice and opinions given here are intended to be for your own safety and peace of mind based on real world experience.

With respect to your TV choices you'll need to consider not just towing capacity and payload numbers, but you are also looking to tow a 29'+ trailer with a very short 115" wheelbase which can create sway problems even if the other 2 factors are within reason. I know you said you'll be getting a Hensley hitch which is a high end product but even the Hensley (which will add a LOT of weight to your TV's hitch BTW) cannot overcome the physics of the short wheelbase.

If it were me, I would choose none of the above and look for a larger/longer TV. You asked for opinions. That's mine.

Yes, trailer is bought, paid for and winterized until next April. So I have a good 6 months to solve my TV situation.

I expect the actual tongue weight of the TT, once loaded, to be in the lower 600#, which should be fine given that a hitch reinforcement should allow me to load 700lb+ on either models, and keeping the tongue/trailer ratio between 12% and 15%. What I did not think about was the weight of the Hensley Arrow unit. I'll need to research the exact weight and factor it in... To be continued...

I know that many people tow the same length (29 feet) with either vehicles and a Hensley (a must), but they are all using the diesel version of the TV. I would like to go with the gas model instead and would like to know if there is enough power in those engines. I don't expect to go over 60mph while towing but I might travel through the Adirondacks (I-87) on a few occasions. Depending on driving comfort of first outings next year, I might also decide to use secondary roads (such as route 9) if I might white knuckling on the hway. However, I believe that this would probably be more demanding on the TV since there would be more stop-and-go situations.

As for the longer TV suggestion, I am all ears if someone can suggest a fuel efficient one (guessing it would be diesel).

One last thing... We plan to flip the TT in about 5 years for a smaller unit (21 feet probably) as the kids should no longer tag along by then. So this is the max length and weight my TV will ever pull.




Bob.

Enjoy life. You ain't coming back for a sequel...

2015 ForestRiver Wildwood X-Lite 261BHXL TT
2009 ForestRiver Flagstaff MAC 227 Popup (sold)

201x Volkswagen Touareg (shopping)
2003 Toyota Sienna CE plus (soon to be replaced...)
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Old 09-15-2014, 09:00 AM   #8
Dad of 2 teenagers...
 
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Besides deciding between gas and diesel, need to know if the air suspension (on the Benz) is a better choice. The Touareg 2011 does no longer have it.


Bob.

Enjoy life. You ain't coming back for a sequel...

2015 ForestRiver Wildwood X-Lite 261BHXL TT
2009 ForestRiver Flagstaff MAC 227 Popup (sold)

201x Volkswagen Touareg (shopping)
2003 Toyota Sienna CE plus (soon to be replaced...)
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Old 09-15-2014, 09:16 AM   #9
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You're not really in a fuel efficient lifestyle if you are into camping with a 29' trailer. You have to give up one or the other. The trailer weight isn't the only thing you have to look at, the frontal area of the trailer will also have a big effect, especially with a smaller SUV. I would not recommend a gas version of either vehicle. Stopping isn't a big issue, as your trailer brakes should handle that end of things. A quick maneuver with a short wheelbase TV and a long trailer is sure to produce an unforgettable moment.


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Old 09-15-2014, 10:14 AM   #10
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Go for it it works great, as you see in my signature we are using a Touareg to pull our 264 Surveyor, there is no sway because we use a Hensley the hitch on the VW was set by CAN-AM in London Ontario (just up the street and around the corner) ours is a TDI and the mileage both with and without the trailer is awesome. On the neg side plugging in the the electrical (brakes lights plug) is awkward as VW hides it but that is my only neg point.
JR Products 2912 Grand Aero Towing Mirror - Pair Got these from amazon and can recommend them for the VW.

Good luck and happy camping.
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